College grads find themselves without jobs or underemployed

On average college graduates with bachelor’s degree have higher incomes than high school graduates and GED holders. However, the economic climate has not been kind to college grads and many recent graduates have found themselves jobless or underemployed. Out of the 1.5 million recent grads in the job market this year, about half of them were underemployed in food services as waiters, bartenders, baristas, as well as in retail, reception and other lower-wage jobs. Median wages overall are down for bachelor’s degree holders and young grads are finding themselves in jobs that only require a high school diploma or less.

This phenomenon does not equally affect all college graduates in all areas of study. Recent grads with majors in anthropology, philosophy, humanities and the arts were among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their level of education. On the other hand, graduates with degrees in nursing, teaching, accounting, computer science, and engineering were among the most likely to find a job that suited their level of education and their field of study.

College graduates are finding that they are being squeezed out by more experienced and even higher educated workers who hold additional degrees and years of work experience. In addition to competition from others, graduates face technological changes that eliminate jobs entirely and replace people with computers. Most job gains are going to workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale in jobs that can’t be replaced by machines or computers.

In addition, U.S. workers may be falling victim to “degree inflation” in which bachelor’s degrees are more common in lower-wage jobs, but still inadequate for higher-wage options. Harvard economist Richard Freeman advises student who don’t know what they will be doing with their degree, or if they don’t have a degree in mind, “take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.”

Posted by Devon Thorsell

Source: Yahoo Finance

Photo credit: South Dakota State University Graduation courtesy of flickr user Sarah Cady

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